August 31, 2009

Kowtowing to imperialists unacceptable to Left: Jyoti Basu

Kolkata, Aug 31 (IANS): Claiming that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is “surrendering to the imperialists” and framing policies adversely hitting the poor, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) patriarch Jyoti Basu Monday said the Left parties will staunchly oppose such moves.“Whatever be the impediments, the Leftists will work in the interest of the workers and the common people. We will never accept the way the central government is surrendering to (the) imperialists,” the nonagenarian Basu said in his written message at a rally organised by West Bengal’s ruling Left Front to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a mass movement against food shortage.

“Due to the policies pursued by the centre, poor people are being adversely hit. Peasants are committing suicide. Food crisis is also escalating in the country,” said Basu, who was chief minister of West Bengal for 23 years from 1977. He stepped down in 2000 for health reasons.
He said prices of essentials, hoarding and black marketing are on the rise, and asserted that the Left parties had built up agitations against the maladies.

“We will never agree to the strategies aimed at dividing the poor,” he said in the missive, read out by Left Front chairman Biman Bose. Attacking the state’s opposition parties and Maoists for stalling development by perpetrating violence and triggering lawlessness, Basu appealed to the Left workers to mobilise the people against such atrocities.

“Work for the people. We should not lose faith in the people, even those who have turned against us. Many have voted against us in the last general election. We have to correct our mistakes. We have to bring these people back to our fold,” the leader said. “I have confidence that the people of our state will never pitch their lot with opportunistic alliances and parties devoid of policies and morals,” said Basu.

Left Front’s massive show of strength in Kolkata

Kolkata, Aug 31 (IANS): After a series of electoral losses, West Bengal’s ruling Left Front Monday sought to enthuse its cadres by organising a huge rally in the city to mark 50 years of a mass movement against food shortages.Held six weeks after Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee-led main opposition Trinamool Congress mobilised lakhs of people in its annual Martyrs’ Day rally, the ruling combine’s show of strength - with claims of nearly 600,000 in attendance - choked traffic in large parts of the city.

The Trinamool’s spectacular performances in the polls to rural and civic bodies, the Lok Sabha and in the assembly by-elections, have cast doubts on whether the ruling Left Front can stretch its marathon stint in power beyond the 2011 state assembly polls.

On top of that, Banerjee’s almost daily announcements of new trains and other railway projects and political statements aimed at weaning away the front’s base have also put the ruling coalition under pressure.

In a written message to the rally, ailing Marxist patriarch Jyoti Basu urged the Left workers to go to the people and regain the confidence of those who have turned against the state government.

“Work for the people. We should not lose faith in the people, even those of our former supporters who have gone against us. We must not think of them as our enemies. We have to bring these people back to our fold,” the nonagenarian Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader said in the missive read out by Left Front chairman Biman Bose.

Cautioning the people that canards were being spread dime a dozen against the front, Basu asked the gathering to take a pledge for making a turnaround in the combine’s fortunes. CPI(M) politburo member and Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee appealed to all sections of the people - particularly the youths and students - to thwart the designs of the evil forces.

Bhattacharjee said the Trinamool was killing CPI(M) workers in East Midnapore district, while the Maoists are doing the same in West Midnapore. “The opposition is all smiles. They are enjoying. They feel that the Maoists are doing what they wanted to do in West Midnapore,” he said.

Terming the ‘atrocities’ committed by the Trinamool on CPI(M) cadres in East Midnapore’s Nandigram as fascist, he said: “The Trinamool and the Maoists want to terrorise people. We won’t allow them to go forward. We will march ahead.”

A condolence resolution adopted at the rally claimed that uncountable number of Left workers and supporters had been murdered by “anti-socials” backed by opposition parties like the Congress, the Trinamool and the Maoists since 2006 assembly polls.

“Everyday, our workers are being attacked and killed. Efforts are on to create lawlessness in the state and bring back the landlord classes into power. Through violence, reactionary forces are trying to break poor people’s unity,” said the resolution.

The Left Front leaders also paid homage to those who fell to police firing during the Food Movement which was launched in 1959 when the state was suffering from acute food shortage.The movement reached its peak Aug 31, 1959, when a large number of processions converged into a huge rally in the central part of the city leading to a severe police baton charge.

The Leftists have claimed that 80 people died in police atrocities on that day, but other political parties dispute the figure. The Food Movement was one of the many agitations organised by the Leftists through the 1950s and 1960s to mobilise the masses leading to the installation of two United Front governments in 1967 and 1969 and finally the uninterrupted rule of the Left Front since 1977.

Maoists gun down two CPI(M) men in Bengal

Purulia (WB), Aug 31 (PTI): Two CPI(M) workers were today shot dead by Maoists in Purulia and West Midnapore districts, police said. An active worker of the CPI(M) Debiprosad Hansda (50) was shot dead by armed Maoists on the charge of being corrupt at Bitting Lohar village of Balarampur in Purulia last night, the police said.
Four more CPI(M) workers and leaders, including Latika Hembram, Pradhan of Kepka Ghatber Panchayat Samiti, her husband and two relatives were beaten-up at Amghar and Nandudih villages in Balarampur last night, they said. The party leaders were also told to desert CPI(M) at the earliest, sources said.
The incident comes close on the heels of the killing of a CPI(M) leader and a party worker in Purulia district since Saturday.In West Midnapore district, Maoists today gunned down a CPI(M) leader for allegedly spying for the police at Amjharna jungle near Lalgarh.

Buddhadeb hits out at Centre for rise in prices of essential goods

KOLKATA,31st AUGUST: The country has failed to achieve “freedom from hunger,” though it had attained “political freedom,” West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said here on Monday.
Mr. Bhattacharjee was addressing a mammoth rally here, organised by the Left Front to mark the 50th anniversary of the “Food Movement” in the State. The Chief Minister slammed the Congress-led government at the Centre for its “failure” to rein in the spiralling prices of essential commodities.

He said, “Through its advertisement messages, the Congress claims that the United Progressive Alliance government is an ‘aam admi ka sarkar.’ But going by its own record, 30 crore people in the country are still going hungry. What sort of an ‘aam admi ka sarkar’ is it then?”

He accused the Centre of allowing private companies to engage in forward trading in essential commodities, thus leading to increase in prices, ignoring the “repeated warnings” by Left parties.
“The Congress made tall claims of ushering in the Green Revolution in the country. But did that ensure enough food for the masses? It did not… why is the food production going down? I would like the Congress-led government to take lessons from the past.”

On the Trinamool Congress’ allegation that the State government was responsible for the price rise, he pointed out that the prices of foodgrains in the city was much cheaper than in Delhi and Mumbai. Terming the Trinamool Congress an “evil power,” he alleged that the Opposition in the State did not speak against the violent activities of the Maoists because of their close links.

“The Opposition is delighted at the violence and terror spread by the Maoists because the rebels are doing what they themselves wanted to achieve… The Maoists are creating havoc in the Paschim Mednipur district, while the Trinamool Congress is doing the same at Nandigram and Khejuri in the Purbo Medinipur district.”

Left Front Committee chairman Biman Bose blamed the Centre for the current food crisis in the country. “I would like the Congress-led government to take lessons from past”

August 30, 2009


Fact file about the Historical Food Movement (1959) and Witnesses account

Kolkata, August 28th - On 9th July, 1959 the Bengal Daily “Swadhinata ‘ brought out its historic editorial “ there no other way so struggle is inevitable “ Though in our state there is no apparent scarcity of food grains , still the people of our state is being forced to buy rice at 33 rupees per Mon ( I mon = 37 kg ) ( an abnormally high rate considering the value of a rupee at that when average salary was about Rs 100/ month even for Government officials ) Rationing system is absent in many places of the state. The area’s were food scarcity is high there also there is no rationing system. Farmers are not getting loans. People are dying in scores everywhere. People irrespective of the fact whether they live in villages or towns are living their lives in abject poverty. The present Congress Government is responsible for this- only by creating movements after movement can force the government to change its food policy and adopt some pro people measures.

After the waves of protest and the gory incidences spanning over 9 days where more than 100 people were killed another 100 still untraceable and over 2500 people injured in various incidents as the Government called military to subdue the protests of the Hungry millions of the state on 8 th September , ‘Swadhinata ‘wrote another editorial the movement as a historic mass enlightment for Bengal. And said that more 15000 hungry improvished people has been confiscated by the Congress Government , More than 26 MLA’s belonging to opposition parties of the assemblies were arrested by the Government. Still when the Government by adopting reprissals’ could not subdue the unrest it adopted brutal tactics of killing people in cold blood to stop the movement.

Exerpts from the Swadhinata brings forward the brutality of the congress led Police “ How cruel the attacks of the police can be, how brutal the oppressions can be? Even woman with children in their laps were not spared, the reporters and photographers of Swadhinata had brought forward the repercussions vividly.

The Brutal repercussion of the spontaneous movement of Hungry millions through Witness accounts

Not only the participants,, even common passersby were targeted by the police led by the then Congress led State government. Various tragic tales were brought forward by the fearless journalism of Swadhinata reporters.

Prahalad Chandra Majumdar of Boubazzar, a owner of a jewellery shop showed how Sudhakar Mondal, an employee of his shop was shot with his 4 year old son Megnadh in his lap. Both the father son duo was removed to hospital by the local residents who had defied the police threats to do so. The incident happened on 1st September when the police fearing the mass uprising on the previous day at the streets of Kolkata. Tragically, when the reporters of a daily arrived at the spot where the father son duo was shot -the youngest son of Sudhakar Mondal showed the blood marks and told “ See theses are the Blood stains of my father and brother.

Dipak Dutta ,then the 7 year old son of a prominent chemist Dr Biren Dutta , D.Phil , had gone out with his family to a Cinema Hall in Central Kolkata . While his entire family was returning to his home on foot , he being the youngest of the lot and his grandfather Chunilal Dutta a Retd. Instructor of Chemistry of Bidyasagar College in Kolkata was returning in a hand held Richshaw . Suddenly a police van came and started a shooting spree killing the his grandfather and injuring young Dipak in his foot.

That day on 5th September 1959, more the maternal uncle of famous actor Shishir Kumar Bhaduri also lost his life. His name was Fanindrakishore Acharya , a scholar in his own right . Tara Bhaduri brother of Shisir Bhaduri and nicknamed as Natyacharya told that Mischief has been done and shunned all trophies that he had received from the Government.

Tales of a Gouri Bhhattacharya , a nurse, who received Bullet wounds and Pushpa a farmer who had come with his son in his lap, lost his son and the Police forced upon her their bayonets and the batons . Gouri – the nurse received bullet wounds.

Shantimoy Bhattacharya , now secretary of CPI(M) South 24 pargans’ district committee and then a youth gave vivid description of how the police lathicharged helpless young people lying on the ground and battered their heads with batons . He himself also received head wounds . many peasants and his co rallyists was tormented to death by the police that day .

Infact, a room of the Shambhunath Pandit hospital in surgical ward came to be known as ‘Bullet Room’ as the Swadhinata news reporter gave an elaborate description of the inmates of the hospital who received Bullet injury that year. They were Ranjit Kumar acharya (14) a school student, Nirmalendu Brahmachary(36) a monk of Ramkrishna Mission ,Shailendranath Ghosh 22( a young worker ) . Police sentries were posted before the bed of Dilip Chatterjee 3rd year student of Charuchandra College and Bijoyprasad Choudhury Commerce student who too was injured with Bullet wounds. Many others were also lined up.

The Movement

On July 1959the price of the rice touched Rs 87.5 per quintal, Bengal rose in revolt. In 15th August the in the press note of the Government again the Congress Government tried to shield the Hoarders and the Black marketers again On 20Th July the second pat of the movement started – the first part being started from 14th July . . in this phase the movement committee called for Civil disobedience in every District headquarters including Kolkata . Rallies were conducted towards every state government departments and on 3rd September general strike was to be observed. On 31st August over 3 lakhs of people gathered in the Maidan of Kolkata. When they were marching towards the Government Departments police wielded their batons and not sparing the peasant women’s also. According to reports of Swadhinata daily that day, 80 lives were crushed under the police baton that day. First although the Government refuted to accept the number of Dead but later the Government also accepted the facts – which pointed out that 80people were killed and 3000 people were injured while 100 people were untraceable. Total arrests were 21000 that day.

"Drenched in the blood of the Hero’s, Bengal has risen again”

Next day the whole students’ community called students’ strike in the entire state. After observing the strike the Student conducted rally towards the home of the then Chief Minister. A group of Student volunteers cordoned of the CM’s house showing discipline and so that no untoward incident happens. They shouted slogans saying ‘Drenched in the blood of the Hero’s, Bengal has risen again.”

After the front of the procession crossed the CM’s House police again lathicharged the students and this time showered them with bullets also . That day 7 students lost their life while 1000 students were injured in the clash and Triguna Sen the vice Chancellor of Jadavpore University hoisted Black Flag in protest against the Killing of the Students. On 3rd September General strike was observed and on that day even in separate incidents Police opened fire in 17 places of Kolkata , 8 places in 24 Pargana’s and in places in Howrah district .

The wanton violence showered by the administration had stunned the entire state and the intellegesia.

Outrage in the state Assembly

A no confidence Motion against the brutal Congress regime and its misadventure aimed in suppressing the hunger of the scantily dressed Mass of Bengal under the weight of the Police baton and showering them with Bullets , was brought by Jyoti Basu , leader of the opposition, Hemanta Basu (Forward Bloc) Ram Chatterjee (Marxist Forward Bloc ) Jatin Chakraborty (RSP ) and others.

Notice of an adjournment motion was also given stating “ Wanton, inhuman and unprovoked orgy of Violence Let loose by the police through Indiscriminate lathi Charges, tear gassing and firing and perpetration of unparalleled barbarities against Men, women and Children in almost all the districts of west Bengal , particularly in Calcutta, Howrah and certain area’s of 24 Parganas ‘ during August and September of this year ,resulting in the death of 80 people , maiming of scores, wounding thousands, innumerable arrests and lack of information with regard to a large number of persons missing since August 31st , 1959. “Describing the assembly session the reporter of the New Age daily reported “ The mounting hatred and indignation of the people against the diabolical savageries committed by Dr BC Roy’s Government Exploded on the floor of the West Bengal assembly when it met at 3 PM on September 21’'.

He goes on describing the session “ it was the stormiest session ever witnessed in the house as 25000 people were demonstrating outside , having been held up the Police about 500 yards From the assembly , The opposition Members except the PSP made it perfectly clear that the Government would have to answer for the mass killing and wounding of peaceful Citizens.

When I reached the assembly at about 2.30PM it was unmistakably evident that the atmosphere was one of the calm before the Storm. A scene of seen expectancy was in the Air and the Public galleries which have permanent seating accommodation for 181 were already occupied by over 400 people. The press gallery too was packed beyond capacity.’

AK Gopalan, Bhupesh Gupta Mohammamad Illiash, Aurobinda Ghosal, Tridib Choudhury and BT Ranadive watched the proceedings from the Governor’s gallery.

All the members of the opposition except the PSP entered the assembly Chamber wearing Black Badges bearing the inscription “In memory of the Martyrs "

‘As soon as the deputy speaker took his seat Jyoti Basu, leader of the opposition got up and proposed that All section in the house should pay homage to the martyrs by standing up and observing one minutes silence . The members of the party’s constituting the PIFRC ( Thre Joint platform of the food movement comprising the communists and the Leftist parties ) stood up. Both the Congress and the PSP and the Congress and the PSP refused to show respect to the dead. The people will remember this insult to their members.” wrote the reporter of the New Age in his daily .

In a moving and powerful speech Jyoti Basu started that Inspite of all the pre planned government Brutality, the people of West Bengal have bowed their heads but taken up the challenge exposing the government game and the terrible toll of lives and sufferings . He hit out the police Minister Kalipada Mukherjee is a big Goonda and DR Roy is a cowardly Goonda. Insisting on a public enquiry he recalled the editorials of the late Satyendranath Majumdar (one of the Bengal greatest journalists during the earlier tram fare increase resistance Movement (1956), when also the Government had tried terror this great Editor had called PC Se and Kalipada Mukherjee has having’ put their mothers to shame’ and as the ‘unnatural offspring of imperialism’.

Jyoti Basu said that these words exactly described the present ministry .

Under the auspicious of the PIFRC 25000 people assembled at the Calcutta Maidan on the same day . Headed by the leaders, amass deputation then went towards the assembly buildings but a big police cordon held it up. The deputation then squatted on the Road.

They anxiously waited for the opposition members to narrate to them , wat had happened in the house on the food issue and when the members arrived they were greeted with tremendous cheers. Among those who addressed the deputation were AK Gopalan , Bhupesh Gupta , Jyoti Basu, Ranen Sen Mohammad Illiyash Hemanta Basu ( Forward Block , Jatin Chakraborty ( RSP ) Chitta Basu ( Forward Bloc ) and Tridib Choudhury ( RSP ), Jyoti Basu had remarked that in 1943 hearing of the devastating famine of the Bengal in 1943 Jawaharlal Nehru had reported that so many people died without protesting , this time Jawaharlal ( the then Prime Minister ) cannot make this complain . People of Bengal have wiped out that allegation, this time they have fought till they are dead.

Food Movement of Bengal (1959)

Role of the Congress in forcefully suppressing the movement and the current policies of the Union government leading again to a food crisis

On the 50th anniversary of the Historical food Movement the country once again as the state of West Bengal nee’ the whole country is looking at the glimpses of the brave fighters and the martyrs of the Historical Food Movement of West Bengal in 1959 where thousands of farmers and workers of mills and common man came to open roads demanded the right to food and demanded for food to Government of the Independent India and the then Congress led State government of West Bengal . Tragically enough the government of the free India and the Then Congress led State Government had wielded their mighty Batons on the unarmed Man and Woman - mostly scantily dressed – Killing about 80 people under the weight of their batons on the 31st July of 1959. Lakhs of people w ho had come to Kolkata demanding Food had received batons instead . On the next few days too, the tyranny of the Congress led Government was at its best – Bullets were showered on unarmed protests taking the tally to even a higher shale.-waves of students protests , workers’ protest hit the streets of Kolkata and the districts . The tally of the dead was more than 100 on the first few days . About another 80people was untraceable and remains so after 50years of the movement .

In his speech in the assembly after the mass killings of Food movement activists on the streets of Kolkata on 21st September in the first session of the assembly after the incident , Communist Leader Jyoti Basu had told in the assembly in his Historical speech “ You have imprisoned more than 17000 people in the prison- when U had accused of violence fact proves that on the incident not a Single policeman received wounds while your baton has claimed many lives. He had told “ We had given the call to the people to conduct movement in a peaceful manner- to stall work adhering to the principles of peace – to fill up your jails in order to share the sorrows of all suffering man and woman – he had rightfully pointed out that on that day the lorries of Food department were used to ferry police to launch attack on the Hungry civilians - Equating the massacre and the attitude of the Congress led Police with that of the Jalianwalabag Massacre he had told of incidences of a body of woman in a crematorium being cremated by the police on questioning the police had retorted that they have retrieved the body from aroad. He had given vivid description of the police’s killing lathicharged on the helpless scantily dressed woman and had asked the essential question to the state government ‘ If u yourself had witnessed the ferocious attack of the police on the scantily dressed woman and the students wont you have resisted- If u are not a coward if Blood flows through your’ veins u too would resist the ferociousness of the police and on that we would have congratulated you '.

The role of the Congress Led Government in augmenting the Food crisis in favour of the millioneers and hoarders had been further highlighted when on 28th august ,1959 the then chief Minister of west Bengal congress leader Bidhan Chandra Roy had remarked that ‘ The Real hoarders were not the traders or the millers but the producers - big and small. It was aclear attempt to defend the ruling class of India and absolving them of the responsibility of the severe food shortage and the famine like improvised conditions then prevailing in Bengal. The Government till the had not forbade hoarding of Rice in Bengal and had allowed individuals to Hoard up to 120 quintals of Rice .

Infact the class characteristics of the Congress led Union government was exposed when the then Deputy minister of Foods of the Union Government Mr. Thomas drew the attention of the state administration to take remedial measures about the act of one Sub divisional officer of Contai who embarking on an anti hording campaign had sealed the godowns of Influential persons of the area and the many Congress MLA’s had complained about the same to the administration against the move of the SDO. Later it was found out that the amongst those whose Godowns were sealed there were prominent Congress Leaders of the district Including Charu Mohanty , a deputy Minister of the state cabinet, The District president of the Medinipore district Congress, Rashbehari Pal and Satishchandra Jana a close aide of the then Chief Minister of West Bengal BC Roy . So while the Congress Government tried to absolve the big fishes of hoarding they tried falsely to implicate the farmers whose bare fields at that time had made them line up in the processions of Hungry persons and had tried to change the focus of world towards false facts.

The then General Secretary of AIKS, Harekrishna Konar , had on 6 th September 2009, had in an article written in the Swadhinata Daily , and had warned the Government that by using Brutal repressals as a force to contain the spontaneous movement of Hungry people wont’ be subdued rather it would known as an anti democratic tirade of the Government. By drawing batons’ , bursting tera gas shells and showering them with bullets and imprisoning them -the common people of the state cannot be subdued . This measures for the time being can shield the profiteers and the hoarders , the ultimate boss of the government, but on the long run due the people’s protest they with their bosses will be reduced to ashes. This word of Com Harekrishna Konar has later hold to be true as after 1977 , by the land reforms the Left front government had replaced the autocratic Junta of the Congress rule. Harekrishna Konar at that time had said the’ The dictates of the History is always True and not only in the interests of the farmers and nation’s people - but also for your own good ( he advised the government ) relieve yourself from taking the anti people measures . At the same time he called upon the people to rise in protest and chain the power hungry rulers and their violent abnormalities’.

Mentionable that at that time the first Communist led and democratically elected Government of Kerala led by EMS Namboodripaad had been sacked at the order of a pen and Jawaharlal Nehru the then Prime Minister of India and the then Chief Minister Of West Bengal BC Roy had referred the food movement as a ploy of the Communists and had told commented about the copmunists in Kerala and west Bengal. On this, Harekrishna Konar, the fire brand secretary of AIKS had retorted back ‘The Chief Minister is trying to undermine the anti hording people’s movement is ablunt manner . He even has dared to give examples from Kerala. Dr Roy should know that though in Kerala there is more than 50% Food shortage still the congress Union Government has not extended any help towards that Communist led Government still the communist Government in Kerala has effective controlled the rates of Rice within 25 -26 Rs per quintal . Where as in the case of West Bengal though there was a 25% shortage and the Union Government supplied rice in excess of that shortage to the Bengal government still due to callousness of the Government the Price of Rice is hovering more than 30 Rupees and out of the range of the common people . Shame on the Government ‘.

Lessons from the movement and the condition now

Currently, price rise of essential items has affected not only West Bengal. But the entire country. Price of all the essential items has sky rocketed compared with the situation in 2008 and 2009 the price of rice, pulses and vegetables has increased by over 50%. All these can be attributed to Hoarding and forward trading by which the agricultural traders of the country and that of foreign countries has increased and according to the Forward market commission the regulatory body of the country the total value of the forward trading in the country was pegged at Rs 2.2288.06 crores at the month of June 2007 only . In next year June that is in 2008 june the amount has increased to 15,64,114.96 ie. a 7 times increase in the amount. On the on the Human Development Index the Country is at 66 th position out of the 88 developing countries of the world. Even Suda ranks before us. Still the farmers of the Country are committing suicides and the farmers of the countries and the country in the current year are under the spell of a severe drought.

Though more 11 farmers have committed suicides in Andhra Pradesh in the last 40 days still the central government has not included Andhra within the Draught prone states’ name . The fact points out to the social condition of the shining India where farmers are committing suicides due excessive loans on their head. AIKS Leader and CPI(M) Central committee member Madan Ghost has raised this question currently also. Even the Chamber of Commerces’ are telling that the country is suffering from tremendous malnutrition as per head consumption of Pulses has come down to 11 kgs from 27 kgs’ in the Country . While in the godown of the Central government more 3 crores 23 lakh tones of rice and 2 crore 53 lakh tones of wheats are stagnated which is sufficient to feed the hungry mouths of the country for 13 months at astretch. This is happening due to lack of purchasing power of the people as about 77% of the country’s population earns less than Rs 20 per day or less according to reports of the Central government Itself. Well known economist Prabhat Patnayak too has expressed apprehension that after the world wide recession , as part of the global economic system will face severe food shortage Price Hike ad Inflation in the coming days .

August 26, 2009

CPI (M) objects to Railways’ advertisement

KOLKATA, 24th August: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Monday objected to an advertisement by Indian Railways announcing one of its schemes with graphics of the Trinamool Congress election symbol and demanded its withdrawal.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the CPI (M) Parliamentary Party leader Sitaram Yechury said he was aghast to see the graphics in the half-page advertisement that appeared in all major national dailies, announcing the scheme of free monthly season tickets for students.

“Surely you will agree that this is a brazen attempt at utilising government funds for promoting the political interests of a particular party which happens to be a member of the ruling coalition under your leadership,” he said. Mr. Yechury requested the Prime Minister to ensure that such advertisements were withdrawn and that he also issue necessary instructions to all government departments not to promote the partisan interests of any political party at the expense of public money.

Full text of the letter of Sitaram Yechury :

Dear Shri Manmohan Singhji,

I am writing to you with reference to a half a page advertisement appearing today in all major national dailies by the Indian Railways announcing its scheme of free monthly season tickets to students. This advertisement also carries your photograph.
I was aghast to see the graphics in the advertisement that are alluding to the election symbol of the Trinamul Congress.Surely you will agree that this is a brazen effort at utilising governmental funds for promoting the political interests of a particular party which happens to be a member of the ruling coalition under your leadership.
I am requesting you to kindly ensure that such advertisements are withdrawn and necessary instructions are issued to all government departments to not promote the partisan interests of any political party at the expense of public monies.
With regards,
Yours sincerely

(Sitaram Yechury)

Mamata, entrepreneur take over at Kolkata TV

Backed by the Trinamool Congress and Kolkata-based entrepreneur Kaustuv Ray, the channel is now being run by its 171 employees, while SST Media’s founder and former MD Tathagata Dutta is struggling to secure his personal assets from being seized by lenders

Aniek Paul and Aveek Datta

Posted at LIVEMINT: Tue, Aug 25 2009. 12:32 AM IST

Kolkata: In a move reminiscent of jute mill takeovers, Union rail minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress—West Bengal’s main opposition party—has wrested control of Kolkata TV, which until May was among the most watched Bengali television news channels, without buying a single share of SST Media Pvt. Ltd, the firm behind the channel.

Backed by the Trinamool Congress and young Kolkata-based entrepreneur Kaustuv Ray, the channel is now being run by its 171 employees, while SST Media’s founder and former managing director Tathagata Dutta is struggling to secure his personal assets from being seized by lenders. SST Media is currently facing liquidation proceedings at the Calcutta high court.

In January 2008, Hyderabad-based Associated Broadcasting Co. Pvt. Ltd, which runs TV9 news channels in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Mumbai, had acquired a 51% stake in SST Media for Rs16 crore. Associated Broadcasting had paid a premium of Rs3.55 on the face value of SST Media’s shares and had acquired them for Rs13.55 each.

Dutta held 49%, but as part of the same deal, pledged 35% of SST Media’s shares with Associated Broadcasting to borrow Rs9.12 crore, which has not been repaid. Effectively, the Hyderabad-based firm has so far invested Rs25.12 crore in SST Media for an 86% stake.

The channel went aground because “it couldn’t generate enough revenues”, said Dutta. Kolkata TV’s operating expenditure was Rs1.7-1.8 crore a month, and at least one-third of it was the cost of distributing the channel through cable operators. “But in terms of audience, we were pretty much on top—No. 1 among Bengali news channels for a long time,” Dutta said.

Persuaded by the Trinamool Congress, Ray, whose RP Group manufactures computers and produces television software, emerged as the white knight. In June, it offered to buy the shares held by Associated Broadcasting. But after several rounds of discussions, talks fell through because they couldn’t agree on a price.

“Ray offered Rs5 crore for Associated Broadcasting’s shares,” said a Kolkata TV employee who spoke on condition of anonymity. “But it seems they want more…they claim they have some more offers.”

When contacted, Ray said Kolkata TV is a tenant of one of his firms. He bought in June the Park Street office out of which Kolkata TV operates. “We had signed an agreement to buy that space (7,500-8,000 sq. ft) in October last year. The deal was closed recently.”

Asked specifically if he was keen to acquire equity interest in SST Media, Ray added: “We have been supplying software to Kolkata TV and many other channels such as ETV Bangla, Zee Bangla, NE Bangla and Doordarshan. I cannot offer further comments because the matter is sub judice.”

“We are currently exploring various options available before us and we are yet to take a decision on selling our stake in Kolkata TV,” said M.K.V.N. Murthy, chief financial officer of Associated Broadcasting. “The situation is still very fluid.” Associated Broadcasting is the brainchild of Srini Raju, brother-in-law of Satyam Computer Services Ltd’s founder B. Ramalinga Raju. Srini Raju served on the board of Satyam till 2000, when he quit to focus on his own interests, venture funding and media.

In the first week of May, Kolkata TV went off air, following which its employees approached Banerjee for help. By then, liquidation proceedings had already started and Associated Broadcasting’s representatives had stepped down from SST Media’s board. Kolkata TV had also stopped paying salaries to its employees.

“When Kolkata TV’s employees approached our leader (Mamata Banerjee), she gave me the responsibility to find a solution,” said Sovan Chatterjee, a Trinamool Congress leader. “We are working in the interest of Kolkata TV’s employees and vendors, who are to receive a lot of money from the company.”

Confirming that he was the person who persuaded Ray to take interest in Kolkata TV, Chatterjee added, “We are grateful to Kaustuv and his RP Group for paying the salaries of 171 employees in July, and it is our commitment to them that they are going to receive their salaries every month from now on.” Chatterjee, however, claimed the Trinamool Congress had no plan to “usurp the channel”.

The channel is being run by its employees under an order of the Calcutta high court, while Ray is trying to take possession of Kolkata TV’s assets, according to the channel’s employee mentioned in the first instance. “He already owns the office, and is currently in discussion with lenders who have seized the cameras, editing devices and OB (outdoor broadcast) vans. If he manages to acquire these assets, he will have complete control over the assets of the channel.”

Ray, however, may yet need to acquire Associated Broadcasting’s and Dutta’s shares in the channel to retain Kolkata TV’s licences, he added. “Dutta has given up and is willing to transfer his 14% stake to anyone who would absolve him of liabilities—his home is mortgaged to State Bank, which had lent Rs4 crore to the company (SST Media).”

Ray’s principal money spinner is his computer manufacturing business. His RP Infosystems Pvt. Ltd, which sells PCs under the Chirag brand, had a turnover of Rs563 crore and a net profit of Rs29 crore in fiscal 2009. A sports enthusiast, Ray, who is in his mid-30s, owns a football club called Chirag United. It plays in the premier division of the Calcutta Football League. He is also the first Hindu president of the Mohammedan Sporting Club—one of the leading football clubs in Kolkata.

Interestingly, Dutta made his money from computers, too. He and a partner were the promoters of Xenitis Infotech Ltd, which sold low-cost PCs under the brand name Amar PC in West Bengal, Apna PC in North India, and Amchi PC in Maharashtra. The duo started the channel in March 2006, but soon split and Dutta ended up with Kolkata TV.

SST Media’s total liabilities are around Rs70 crore, according to an internal note that has been reviewed by Mint. It borrowed from three banks—UCO Bank, Bank of India and State Bank of India—some Rs28.33 crore. It owes vendors Rs21.45 crore, and employees, Rs2.5 crore.

The happenings at Kolkata TV are a throwback to jute mill takeovers through so-called managing agents; in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, scores of embattled jute mills in West Bengal were taken over in a similar manner. While owners fought cases to secure assets from being seized by lenders and statutory authorities, rival groups hijacked operations through court-appointed managing agents with the support of political bigwigs and employees, who for the sake of their livelihood would do anything to keep the mills running.

The phenomenon of political parties directly or indirectly running television channels is common in south India. SunTV Network, which runs a bouquet of channels in several south Indian languages, including Tamil, is promoted by the Maran family, closely related to the family of M. Karunanidhi, the patriarch of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Tamil Nadu chief minister.

“As long as I was responsible for the editorial content of Kolkata TV as its chief editor, I made sure that we were completely unbiased,” said Dutta. “However, I have lost control and hence cannot comment on what is going to happen in the future.”

There are now four 24-hour Bengali television news channels—Star Ananda, 24 Ghanta, Channel 10 and NE Bangla—besides Kolkata TV. The “takeover” of Kolkata TV by the Trinamool Congress gains significance in the light of the forthcoming assembly election in West Bengal, scheduled for the summer of 2011.

Incidentally, Ray was an activist of the Students’ Federation of India—an organization linked to the Communist Party of India (Marxist)—when he was a student of economics at Kolkata’s Jadavpur University.
C.R. Sukumar contributed to this story.
Illustrations by Jayachandran / Mint

DHR 128th anniv plans roll out

SILIGURI, 24 AUG: The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is observing its 128th anniversary in collaboration with the North Bengal Science Centre through a slew of programmes including a photo exhibition showcasing the spectacular history of the toy train, now included amongst the Unesco world heritage sites. The postmaster general, North Bengal and Sikkim region, Mr Lalhluna, inaugurated the week-long exhibition being held on the NBSC premises. The joint director, tourism, West Bengal government, Mr Gopal Lama, the principal, Siliguri Institute of Technology, Mr S Dasgupta, the project co- coordinator, NBSC, Mr Rajib Nath and the director, DHR, Mr Subrata Nath were present. According to the DHR director, this year's programmes were kept low key in view of the indefinite postponement of the heritage service between New Jalpaiguri and Kurseong due to lanslides along the tracks. “We would celebrate the anniversary in a befitting manner in future,” Mr Subrata Nath said. Referring the frequent landslides in the hills, an octogenarian ex- DHR employee, Mr D B Thapa, who was felicitated on the occasion, issued a note of caution. “The unimpeded traffic flow involving heavy vehicles along the fragile hills might bring about natural calamities of grimmer magnitude in future. Those who love the hills must come forward to checkmate the unhindered vehicular movement to avoid a catastrophe,” Mr Thapa commented.

August 19, 2009

'Putting Victims on Par with Killers is Painful'


KOLKATA,7th AUGUST: The Bengal Left Front committee has issued the following statement on August 7, 2009:

THE press statement dated August 6, 2009, released on behalf of the governor of West Bengal and duly signed by him has pained and compelled us to respond to his reactions. While sharing the grief expressed by him we attract his kind attention to the fact that the political violence mentioned in the statement started before the elections to the 15th Lok Sabha and was targeted against CPI(M) in particular and Left Front in general. So far 74 CPI(M), 2 Forward Bloc workers, 4 JKP (Naren Hansda) supporters, 2 villagers and 3 polling personals were killed since declaration of the elections, notwithstanding 103 CPI(M) workers killed during the last one year (since September 1, 2008). The self styled Maoists take pride in openly claiming their ownership of most of these ghastly murders and their attempt to kill the chief minister of the state. We have no knowledge of any public statement released from Raj Bhavan on such occasions.

By asking “when the leading political formations of West Bengal have the same objective, why should violence not abate?” and arriving at a conclusion that he believes “those who can act, are not doing so,” leaves no distinction between the killers and the killed. The perceptive Indian mentioned in the statement would not have missed this difference and that probably explains why the statement is shy of taking his name. The role of some union ministers of the Trinamul Congress in encouraging this ‘tandava’ has been amply explained in the memorandum submitted by a delegation of Left Front MLAs to the governor of West Bengal. We are not aware if the honourable governor has sent any report to the union government on the involvements of these union ministers in this matter.

We would humbly like to submit that the constitutional head of the state should exhibit more apparent neutrality while making statement in public. If worship of force in all its forms has to be eradicated, the way highest office of the state behaves should also call for a meaningful change.


A sea of humanity reached out the last remains of comrade Subhas Chakraborty to the final destination as a clouded evening accompanied by a light drizzle descended on the metropolis. Leading the cortège was state secretary of the CPI (M) Biman Basu and the state secretariat. The frontage of the march of lakhs included the largest bulk of the state leadership of the CPI (M) and of the Bengal Left Front, and almost the entire cabinet of ministers of the Bengal LF government. 67 fluttering Red Flags recalled the number of year’s comrade Subhas Chakraborty had spent on the earth that and the people of which he was so much in love with, all his political life.

Earlier homage was paid to him in hundreds of thousands of wreaths and garlands at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan, earlier to that at the Assembly House, the Writers’ Buildings, the Dumdum office of the CPI (M), his ancestral house, and at his Salt Lake residence. Comrade Subhas Chakraborty had been for some time in the past, a victim to a fell disease that he bravely battled for months and weeks and days. Indeed, out last memory of him was his stentorian presence at the meeting with the bus owners who were tarrying to implement the banning of fifteen-year-old vehicles despite environmental ‘reasons why’ having been made clear to them. Comrade Subhas Chakraborty had his way.

What most people did not know that risking infection, Comrade Subhas Chakraborty had left in the midst of chemotherapy session to ensure that Bengal’s streets and roads remained moving with vehicular traffic and that the strike threat had no effect: this became as he had planned. Comrade Subhas Chakraborty went back to the medical institution where he was being treated for a fell disease, and to the immense regret of us all, succumbed and breathed his last, come the mid-day hours of 3 August.


Apart from the CPI (M) general secretary, Prakash Karat, Comrade Subhas Chakraborty’s passage was condoled by the Bengal CPI (M), the Bengal Left Front, the Bengal Left Front government including chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the mass organisations, the various popular associations including sports bodies to which Comrade Subhas Chakraborty was intimately linked – we recall his rousing reception to an overwhelmed legend called Diego Maradona in Kolkata some years back – and by the entire gamut of the Bengal opposition.

Of them all, Biman Basu broke down helplessly when he had to state the passing away of Comrade Subhas Chakraborty whilst the veteran mass leader and CPI (M) Polit Bureau member, an ailing Jyoti Basu was the most distraught at the going away of a CPI (M) stalwart whom he described as an activist ‘young Party leader’ in the full bloom of political endeavour.


Born in Dacca on 18 March 1942, Comrade Subhas Chakraborty grew up in Nager Bazar in Dumdum where he cut his political teeth at the Motijheel College. A member of the Communist Party in 1958, Comrade Subhas Chakraborty had to go to jail for leading movements of students (the then BPSF) against a fee raise. Comrade Subhas Chakraborty took part in the successive food movements, struggles against imperialism, movements against price rise and for the spread of education.

A close aide of the late Comrade Dinesh Majumdar, Comrade Subhas Chakraborty spurned repeated offers of jobs – he was an outstanding student – and chose to be a Party wholetimer. Comrade Subhas Chakraborty was the general secretary of the BPSF in 1969, state secretary of the newly-formed SFI in 1970, and was the second general secretary at the all-India level of the SFI after the founder general secretary Biman Basu.

Comrade Subhas Chakraborty fought a stiff battle against both revisionism and sectarianism. A member of the state committee as far back as 1971, he was made a member of the state secretariat in 2008. He led the CITU from the front as a Bengal and all-India office-bearer.


His electoral battle started as far back as 1967 when he was elected a councillor with overwhelming popular support in the then south Dumdum municipality—and he remained a councillor till 1978. In 1977, he won from the Belgachia Assembly constituency. Comrade Subhas Chakraborty who had won seven times in succession from this constituency was made a minister in the LF government in 1982.

Thence he was successively and successfully in charge of sports, youth welfare, and transport. Intimately linked to the Salt Lake stadium, Comrade Subhas Chakraborty was associated with the movements and struggles for the Bakreswar thermal power project and the Haldia Petrochem set-up.

A leader of great popular appeal, Comrade Subhas Chakraborty leaves behind his wife, Ramala who is a member of the district committee of north 24 Parganas of the CPI (M), and their son, Anubhav.


Date of Birth: 18th March,1942

Place of Birth: Born at Mashail, Dhaka, Bangladesh(now)

Academic Degree: B.A.

Name of School: K. K. Hindu Academy

Name of College: DumDum Mothijhil College

Name of University: University of Calcutta

Name of Spouse : Smt. Ramala Chakraborty(Bhattacharya)

Son: One

Political Activities:

· Joined Student movements while in School

· Member, CPI from 3rd May, 1959

· Joined CPI(M) after ideological division of Communist Party in 1964

· General Secretary of BPSF(1966-70)

· State Secretary of SFI(1970-77)

· All India General Secretary SFI(1977-79)

· Member, CPI(M), West Bengal State Committee from 1971

· State Secretariat Member, CPI(M) from 2008

Peoples’ Representative:

· Former Commissioner of South DumDum Municipality

· Elected MLA since 1977 from Belgachia East constituency (8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th West Bengal Legislative Assembly)

Positions Held:

1982 MOS, Sports,Youth Services, Dairy Development

1987 MIC, Sports and Youth Services, and Tourism

1991 MIC, Sports and Youth Services, and Tourism

1996 MIC, Transport and Sports

2001 MIC, Transport, Sports and HRBC

2006 MIC, Transport, Sports and Youth Services

Activities as a Trade Unionist:

Vice President, CITU, West Bengal Committee

Member, All India Working Committee, CITU



Comrade Subhash Chakraborty: A popular leader

NEW DELHI,3rd AUGUST: The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) expresses deep grief at the passing away of Comrade Subhas Chakrabarti, member of the West Bengal State Secretariat, trade union leader and minister in the Left Front Government.

Subhas Chakrabarti began his political activities from his school days when he joined the student movement in the late fifties. He was the all India General Secretary of the Students Federation of India between 1977 and 1979. He became a member of the West Bengal State Committee of the CPI(M) in 1971. During the period of semi-fascist terror in West Bengal, Subhas Chakrabarti boldly faced the attacks and organised the student and youth movement. Later he began working on the trade union front and he was till the end the Vice-President of the state CITU.

Comrade Subhas Chakrabarti was a popular leader who served the Party with dedication. His death is a loss for the Party and the working class movement in West Bengal. The Polit Bureau conveys its heartfelt condolences to his wife, son and other members of the family.

WEST BENGAL: Party Reviews Govt Work And Organisational Matters

Changes To Be Made In Ministry

KOLKATA,2nd AUGUST: THE CPI(M) West Bengal state committee at its two day meeting on August 1-2, 2009 decided to reshuffle and re-allot some of the ministries held by CPI(M) members in the state cabinet. The meeting also discussed key organisational issues and the work of the Left Front government. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee drew the conclusions from the discussions in the meeting on the working of the state government while Party state secretary Biman Basu drew the conclusions from the discussions regarding the Party’s organisational matters.

Post the state committee decision, the reallocated ministries in the state cabinet would be as follows: Suryakanta Misra – Health; Anisur Rahman – Panchayat and Rural Development; Narayan Biswas – Animal Husbandry; Anadi Sahoo – Labour; Mrinal Banerjee – Power; Sailen Sarkar – Environment; and Rabilal Maitra – Law and Parliamentary Affairs.


The state committee noted that the Left Front government has earned success in many of its endeavours. But it stressed that alongside these successes, the government's drawbacks should not be lost sight of. It advised that after reviewing the work from a class angle, work should be prioritised and taken up at a brisk pace. The administration should be more pro-people in attitude, observed the state committee. There is also a need to tone up the administration and bring enhanced clarity within the administration. Works pertaining to land distribution, agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, pisciculture, irrigation, provision of agricultural loans, higher quality seeds, fertilisers, and cooperative departments should receive more attention. The successes in these aspects should be further improved upon. Irrigation facilities in the state should be extended more widely and it should be ensured that poor farmers receive loans more easily and on easier terms, the state committee observed.

The committee noted that on the whole in the state, capital investment for industrialisation is steadily increasing. It stressed that in the drive for industrialisation efforts should be made to attract investments in the manufacturing sector, including small and medium industries in the state. More definite policies on land acquisition and rehabilitation should be adopted by the government. Work is going on for setting up land banks in the state, leaving aside fertile lands of the state. Efforts should also be undertaken to increase power generation in the state. Proper development of Self Help Groups and generation of new employment in the state should receive priority.

There should be enhanced clarity on preparation of proper and dependable BPL lists, taking care to see that every poor person in the state is included in it. All citizens of the state should have ration cards. The issue of ration cards and Antyodaya scheme should be given priority by the government. The process of obtaining bank loans should be simplified and marketing endeavours should be increased. Work programmes should be prioritised amongst schedule castes and tribes, OBCs, religious minorities, and refugees. The scope of work under NREGA should be further enhanced. Work on rural electrification should be speeded up. Construction of houses for both urban and rural poor and for religious minorities should be beefed up. Care should be taken to see that every child goes to school. The quality of education should improve and more teachers should be appointed. Greater efforts are needed for proper implementation of West Bengal government’s policies pertaining to workers of closed industrial units and unorganised sector workers.


Rectification effort within the Party is a continual process. However, there is a lag in doing this work with emphasis and there is a need to pay more attention to this aspect. Proper action should be taken against undesirable economic activities. Efforts should be made to eradicate inactivity of the Party members, wherever it is found. Party members should be well informed about our ideology. Activists who have emerged from movement and struggles should be enlisted as Party members. This enrollment work should be properly directed. The policy of democratic centralism should be correctly applied to implement programmes and to combat the attacks from the ruling class.

Anti-communists and anti-Leftist forces, ranging from the extreme right to the extreme Left, have formed a reactionary alliance in the state. The continuous terror being unleashed by the Trinamul Congress and this 'axis of evil' can be thwarted only by building up people’s solidarity. Their designs of anarchy and terror can be tackled in this manner alone. It has also been observed that Party organisations at all levels should be bolstered to thwart the conspiracies of the national and foreign reactionary forces against the advance post of the country’s Left movement. Alongside with it, the aspirations of the masses should be channelised into a circle of movement and struggles.

In the context of the present political situation, relatively younger generation workers should be entrusted with more responsibilities. More and more eligible workers coming from working class, schedule castes, tribals and religious minorities background should be entrusted with responsibilities. Efforts should be made to induct more women into the Party and to entrust them with responsibilities. The fact that the CPI(M) is a party of the working class should be reflected within the Party structure. Inner party struggle should continue to uphold this identity of the Party.

The state committee has also observed that the axis of political evil forces in the state, which wants to disrupt the daily chores of the common man and to stall developmental projects, cannot be deemed capable of taking up pro-people work in the state. Though it is true that the mass support of the Left Front has been reduced for the time being, the Party and the Left Front are capable of winning over the minds of the common people of the state through movement and struggles, and by building up more intense relationship with the common people.

The Party state committee has also decided to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic food movement in the state in 1959 through various programmes on August 31.


KOLKATA,31st JULY: Addressing a large indoor rally to remember E M S Namboodiripad, the legendary Communist leader on his centenary year, held at the Calcutta University centenary hall during the evening of 31 July, CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat said that the CPI (M) would go to the people as in the past, learn from them and battle ahead defeating all adversities. Biman Basu was in the chair. The members of the CPI (M) state secretariat were on the dais.

Prakash Karat said that EMS was not merely a theoretician he was also of that rare quality that allowed one to put theory to practice. He would analyse the evolving situation and raw the correct lessons from them. He placed a remarkable address on the problems plaguing the Malabar kisans when he was speaking at a legislative session in Delhi in the pre-independence years.

This was the address that later served to inspire the land reforms movement in the country and gave birth much later to the movement for land reforms in places like Kerala and Bengal.

EMS was also a correct analyst of the nationalities question in Kerala and apart from calling for an integrated concept of what was then called a province EMS also spoke firmly in favour of democratic decentralisation of power, financial as well as administrative.

Prakash Karat said that the CPI (M) was at present under assault from forces of reaction, indigenous and foreign. The attack took a sharp formation prior to the 15th Lok Sabha elections and has continued since in Bengal.

From the date of the announcement of election schedule, 70 comrades have been martyred here in Bengal said Prakash Karat. In Kerala, the attack was open and overt. In Bengal the attack is covert and in the guise of ‘Maoism.’ Prakash Karat was bitterly critical of the politics of ‘Maoism’ being practiced in some parts of the country.

Analysing the election results obtained in the 15th Lok Sabha elections, Prakash Karat pointed out that the results were an ‘exception in Bengal where the LF has been in office for 32 long years.’ The CPI (M) has full confidence that it should learn from the people the correct lessons and drive forward in the days to come. The life and achievements of EMS would serve as source on inspiration in this task.


KHEJURI, 30th JULY: Anjali Maity is a housewife, and is of 30-odd years. She lives in the quiet of the shaded by trees village of Uttar Kalam under the Tikashi Gram Panchayat (GP) in Khejuri, Midnapore east. She leads the local unit of the AIDWA. She has stood stoutly by the side of her comrades when the Trinamuli goons started to harass them, and worse, targeting every single CPI (M) worker in the small hamlet, in the wake of their raucous electoral success at the GP polls.

We have a recent incident of deep political disturbance that occurred to Anjali on the night of 23 July. Anjali lives alone, for her husband, Balai, a CPI (M) worker, has been forced to flee their humble residence because of threats on his life by the local Trinamul toughs. Indeed, Anjali it was who insisted that Balai move out for the time being as a tactical move.

Then something terrible happened. Soft-spoken, mild-mannered Anjali had her residence broken into by Trinamul hoodlums, there were 25-odd men in inebriated state, and they beat Anjali to an inch of death and then gagged and kidnapped her, secreting her away in a remote art of the village as the skies opened up, rain poured down, and her cries for help could not be heard in the boom of the thunder-and-lightening.

She was then overpowered, her modesty outraged, and fingers of her hand broken for having the boldness to fight back. This went on for seven days, seven nights, and the Trinamulis spread the confident and authentic-sounding word around that Anjali had gone away to join her husband.

Anjali bore the torture with fortitude and she would struggle very hard indeed not to sign away the small piece of land that she owned and which the Trinamulis lusted for. She failed. Nevertheless, she did succeed in taking advantage of a momentary lapse of vigilance by her hated captors, jumped from a first floor window and ran for the nearest CPI (M) office in the dark and silence of another rainy night.

Since, she has been moved to a hospital, and a police case has been started against the perpetrators of the crime most of whose names she has informed the authorities. Bengal AIDWA has called upon the state home secretary urging upon him to bring the guilty to book.

The incidence drips sadness and outrage at the same time and, looking back, one considers it a great a pity that the Uttar Kalam village allowed a bunch of Trinamuli gangsters to get away with a win in the GP elections.


KOLKATA,29th July: There is a populist turn of phrase in Bengali, which applies with great political implication in the electoral line of the bourgeois outfits. The expression is khatay-kalamé and it is a signifier of an act of a promise being put on paper and then casually, expectedly given the go by.

The phrase khatay-kalamé has been of apt reportage utility for us, in describing the slight if high-profile difference of opinion on the score of venal political brokerage par excellence amongst the two Congresses who had unamicably combined as an utilitarian act of convenience, to capture the board of the Uluberia municipality in the district of Howrah in the civic polls of late.

The bugles had been blown. The fanfare was in full flow. The hour had approached for the Trinamul Congress, per khatay-kalamé, to assume charge of the municipal board at Uluberia. Something nasty happened, though, between the cup and the lip.

Cometh the hour, we say, cometh the turn-coat, as far as bourgeois parties are concerned. Without even a voting having to be called for, a clutch of Trinamulis noiselessly went ahead to vote the Pradesh Congress into office. Didi kept a grim silence that spoke a thousand words.

Elsewhere, things related to anti-Communist unity, too, are fading a bit we thought. At the time of filing of this report we observe and admittedly not quite with glum and murk, that the Pradesh Congress has gone ahead and unilaterally announced the names of candidates for the by-elections to the two central Kolkata seats that had fallen vacant with the incumbent MLAs having resigned and become MPs.

The Sealdah seat has always been Somen Mitra’s forté. It has been so whether he was at the helm of affairs of the Pradesh Congress or has deferentially kow-towed to didi and formed a small outfit minus political reckon as a step towards joining the Trinamuli band-wagon. We find it difficult to characterize whose domain the Bowbazar seat belongs though because of the innumerable times Sudip Bandyopadhyay has changed colours between the two Congresses.

At any rate, didi’s men are trying their roughest to cling onto at least the Bowbazar seat, but there is a section which would also angle for the Sealdah seat as well. Watch this space for further developments of toadyism of the querulous kind.

Biman Basu, Bengal Left Front chairman has announced the names of the LF candidates for the by-elections. Prabir Deb of the CPI would contest the Sealdah seat. Minati Gomes, a noted lawyer, is the LF-nominated independent candidate for the Bowbazar seat.


KOLKATA, 29th JULY: In the name of a bandh called on non-issues like presence of police in western Bengal, the Jharkhandis of the ‘disham’ group aided and abetted by local units of the Trinamulis assaulted railway passengers, held up train services, blocked highways and other main arterial roads, and forced shopkeepers to down shutters in the various towns of Purulia and Burdwan.

The hooligans came out with sharp, cutting weapons including large scimitars, spears, and daggers. People were terrorised. One of the chased, a young student by the name of Arghya Samanta, suffered from a panic attack as he stumbled and fell and saw a murderous mob approaching him with arms at the ready.

The young man aged 20 tragically died from a heart seizure. The attackers then ransacked several haats and bazaars putting to the torch houses of CPI (M) supporters in both districts, at several places, and then also ran amuck in the bordering district of Hooghly.

Biman Basu said that the recent events showed how the Trinamulis and their noxious associates were keeping up efforts to step up violence in Bengal, especially in areas where they have won elections of late. At the call of the CPI (M), street corner meetings and smaller rallies have continued across Bengal to protest the attempt at bringing back anarchy in the state.

In a related development, the Burdwan unit of the CPI (M) has produced video clipping that depicts the presence of one Nazir Sheikh on of the killers named by comrade Falguni in his dying statement. Manas Bhuinya the Congress leader had said that if it could be proved that the Pradesh Congress leaders on a recent tour of Mangolkote had been accompanied by any of the accused in the comrade Falguni murder case, he would resign as an MLA.

The ball is now clearly in your court, Manasbabu.(INN)